SHS Web Conf.
Volume 40, 20186th International Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference SOCIETY. HEALTH. WELFARE
|Number of page(s)||6|
|Published online||31 January 2018|
Accessibility problems in home environment for seniors in Latvia: Experience from the research project innovAge (WP2)
Rīga Stradiņš university, Riga, Latvia
Studies on relations between health and environment indicate that accessibility positively influence healthy life expectancy, as accessible home environment and neighbourhood support mobility, daily activities and social participation in old age. One of the tasks in the EC 7th framework research project innovAge (2012-2015) aimed to develop an IT tool to support seniors’ involvement in decisions about their housing options and help them to become active partners in choice and supply of housing.
This study aims to explore seniors’ opinions about accessibility in their physical home environment based on analysis of data - interview records and notes - from two study stages in the research project innovAge (WP2). Participants, at the first stage - 8 seniors and at the second stage - 10 seniors, represented variety of living conditions, family situations and functional abilities. Participation in the study was voluntary and the participants had right to withdraw from the study at any stage.
Usually, barriers in home environment seniors consider late, when functional abilities decreases substantially. The most common places where environmental barriers appear are sanitary spaces, kitchen and entrance of the home. Despite the environmental barriers and functional limitations, seniors remain in their homes, mainly because in Latvia do not exist traditions to seek options for relocation, as well as there are no policies and services to support this. In few municipalities options exist to adapt home environment, but it refers only to cases of severe disability for persons using wheelchair. Usually, the need for environment adaptations for seniors is replaced by care services, thus meeting also the needs for seniors’ socialization. Regarding possibilities to adapt home environment, strong prejudices exist (bath vs. shower, disadvantages of living on the first floor, etc.). Seniors admitted that they lack knowledge and experience on housing adaptations, but emphasized that the environmental accessibility in a wider context, including the neighbourhood and services, is essential.
The close cooperation with participants facilitated the researchers’ understanding of the seniors’ complex views and needs regarding their home environment and related issues, which are important for developing housing policies for senior citizens in Latvia. Despite the specified accessibility problems in home environment, the seniors evaluated usability of their homes generally high.
Key words: project innovAge / seniors / accessibility / housing
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2018
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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